Chris Sinclair is a photojournalist turned an all-round filmmaker through his company, Outskirt Films. He’s been using SpeedScriber since October 2016 and speaks with SpeedScriber designer and developer, Martin Baker.
Martin It’s always a pleasure to talk with customers so thanks for joining me Chris.
Chris No problem, thanks for making the software!
Martin So how did you became a filmmaker?
Chris I started off as a photojournalist and with the digital revolution a lot of newsrooms began asking photographers to start creating video content. There are many former photojournalists who are now full-time documentary filmmakers and that’s what I’ve been doing since 2012.
I would consider myself a one-man band. I do a lot of turnkey-style projects where I shoot, edit, pre-produce, produce and then post-produce. And I deal with things on an individual basis with clients. So yeah a small operation.
Martin Do you bring in other people as you need to?
Chris Yes, I’m careful how much work I take on, but often I’ll build out the crew for the production phase or sometimes hire an assistant editor to meet all the deadlines because I’ll have multiple projects going at once. The challenge is always to under-promise and over-deliver.
Martin So what type of projects do you tend to specialize in?
Chris Most of my work is short documentary work or branded content. It’s more storytelling-driven but applied to everything from tech companies to non-profits. My dream is to do feature docs and I’ve been collaborating on a doc with two other people for the past eight years.
Martin Wow that’s long-term project!
Chris Yes it’s a feature called Free Burma Rangers which premiered at Justice Film Festival in NYC ahead of nationwide theatrical release in February 2020. It has been a very challenging project with nearly 2000 hrs of footage and over 50 hours of transcripts generated from interviews. There’s a massive amount of archive material along with five different foreign languages, multiple camera types and frame rates, and the focus of the story actually changed during post-production. Originally was going to be a film about Burma, but it ended up being around 60% on Iraq.
Martin What editing software do you use?
Chris Pretty exclusively Final Cut Pro X. I was using version 7 and I briefly used Premiere Pro just because a few clients required it, but as soon as FCPX came out I started experimenting with it just enough to know its advantages and invest in it from a time and learning curve standpoint.
In the early days it was lacking some things and was a little clunky but it’s come a long way. It’s very intuitive and brings creativity to the forefront — there’s not a whole lot of clicks and drags needed to make something happen. So I’ve become pretty familiar with the technicalities of what you can do and I particularly love the idea of extending it through the app ecosystem with XML.
Martin Which is a nice segue to SpeedScriber! You’ve been using the app for a few years now, what was it that first appealed to you?
Chris As a result of my background I’m very deadline oriented, so I’m always looking for anything that will help to speed up workflow and get projects turned around faster. When I saw SpeedScriber, I was immediately interested.
Martin How do you use SpeedScriber in your post workflow?
Chris My interviews are often shot with multiple cameras, so I’ll get the multicam clips set up first in FCPX, then tag them with the ‘SS Processing’ keyword and send them over to SpeedScriber. I love how everything comes over with the audio channels perfectly transferred. So I’ll submit the clips for transcription, check some emails and in a few minutes it will be ready to work on.
I love the ability to create favorite ranges…
While I’m often amazed at the accuracy, the first thing I do is to clean up the transcript. I’m not very concerned with the accuracy of the interview questions but more with verbatim responses that I’ll be using in the edit. And once that’s cleaned up I love the ability to create favorite ranges from selected words and being able to assign different colors to speakers. I also love the clean design of the app but probably the biggest thing I could praise is the number of keyboard shortcuts for making edits so you don’t have to take your hands off the keyboard.
I find the option to save custom words very useful, particularly for an unusual name or place that hasn’t been transcribed automatically. Being able to quickly replace the selected word with a custom word is a great feature.
Martin So you’re sending transcripts back to FCPX as keyword ranges?
Chris Yes, I’ll then filter by favorites in the event browser and very quickly can create the spine to my story that I later fill out with B-roll and music.
That’s pretty much how I do all of my work. The benefit of having transcripts is that clients will occasionally ask to see if there’s a different quote that maybe I haven’t flagged that they think would work better. So I’ll just give them the transcript and let them look for what they want. It’s very useful to be able to be able to export an attractive version of the transcript as a PDF.
Martin Do you ever use SpeedScriber for making captions?
Chris Yes just the other day I did that. I didn’t want to type it manually because it was six minutes long so it would have taken me at least 20 minutes. So I did an export with the music role disabled, dropped the file into SpeedScriber and within less than a minute I had the transcript.
I love that SpeedScriber allows me to play it back faster than normal speed because I can very quickly fix some punctuation here and there then export to SRT and send it to the client.
Martin Thanks very much Chris, it’s been great talking to you.
Chris Thanks for building SpeedScriber. It helps me a lot in my work.